144.2, 143, 142, 144.8, 146.6, 145, 143.6, 145.3
This is not Morse Code but a list of the natural fluctuations of my weight over the past month.
If you are post-menopausal, your body’s ability to lose fat may have slowed down. If you are over 60 and have developed thyroid issues (it is estimated that one woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime.), it may be slower still. If your weight fluctuates, do you freak out?
You decided to eat healthy. You have given up those “prized” foods (pizza, cupcakes, ice cream), and you are losing about 1# a week. Some weeks it is .5 pounds a week. Your mind then looks to a time when you did successfully lose weight way back when, and dropped 13 pounds in one month. That’s how I lost weight in my 40s.
You might think, “Only 1 pound a week after all this hard work!” That might cause you to throw in the towel. Give it up.
If progress is slow, and if you are moving in the right direction, what is the problem? If you are holding on to beliefs that you should be losing weight faster, (thoughts created by looking to your past) let us examine whether hanging on to those beliefs is in your best interest.
I’d like to give you a hypothetical situation:
You are on a game show that gives you the date of your death – say 2 years into the future.
You have to choose from 2 options – Door No. 1 and Door No. 2
Door No. 1. Throw abandon to the wind and eat all of your favorite foods all of the time, not care if you gain weight and decide never to exercise again?
Door No. 2. Learn how to be present, eat 100% whole foods to support your body for optimal energy and performance and keep moving?
What would you choose?
I had a friend who didn’t get to make that choice. She was diagnosed with glioblastomas – brain tumors; just before her 60th birthday and was gone soon afterwards.
That gave me pause. What would I do if it were me? I thought for sure, it wouldn’t be worth giving up my favorite high-sugar-high-fat carbs – like Oreos and Haagen-Dazs, and those damned dried figs – if I knew I was going to die.
That was pleasure for me. Or was it?
At that time, I was a slave to food. The habits I developed and were squarely installed into my unconscious brain. This habit of overeating and thinking about food was not always a party. There was the joy of the moment, and I mean the teeny tiny moment I placed that food in my mouth, but once it hit my stomach, the feeling was not good. Immediately after hitting my stomach, my brain was flooded with regret and recriminations.
I began to question if choosing Door No. 1, eating everything I wanted, was a sane response.
I decided to test it out. I decided that I would just eat for pleasure. Over the next several years, I ate those sugary foods that made my brain light up.
However, I gained weight. I felt like crap. I had brain fog and depressed moods. I learned that there is always a cost when you choose false pleasures. False pleasures send dopamine to your brain center in increasingly unsustainable quantities and creates unquenchable desire. Eating reward foods create physiological problems – diabetes, heart disease, inflammation. Eating lab designed, highly processed foods creates psychological problems – mood swings, depression.
What was so great about Oreo Cookies that was worth exchanging for my vitality? Was the brief pleasure worth the suffering that followed?
I considered, what is the opposite of false pleasure? Natural pleasures. Enjoying real food. Engaging with real people. Accomplishing goals with a sense of pride. Being in nature, ocean, forest, dessert is a truly natural pleasure. Exercising and moving give me natural pleasures. Playing games, singing, laughing with friends, meditating or praying – these are natural pleasures.
Natural pleasures involve true presence and engagement and time to self-reflect compassionately and lovingly. This is why I am grateful I learned to give up false pleasures, even though it meant giving up those sweet food memories of my youth. Many of those memories were selective and delusional anyway. I could count as many memories about food that were definitely not so joyous and free.
Ultimately, I chose Door No 2. I even put it in my will. If I am diagnosed with any major disease, don’t feed me sugar and flour. Let me eat less, so that my body can put its energy to healing and so that I have more time to go on adventures that don’t involve food.
Now I have a mindset that chooses what is best for me, based on a thoughtful decision and translated into a daily food plan. It is my Door No. 2. My my weight may fluctuate, which it will, I won’t get too roiled up.
If your weight loss is slow, as long as you are choosing a healthy plan and putting what you want to eat and enjoy eating on that plan, you are living exactly how you always wanted to live.
I choose to focus on what will get me to my healthy future. Not some old idea of how I lost weight when I was 28. I won’t focus on feeling like a victim because I am viewing my choices as making a great sacrifice; “How come they get to eat whatever they want, and I can’t.”
We are choosing to be empowered. When you make the decision to eat for health and vitality, own it. Revel in it. Be proud.
Why? Because I am in it for my future self. I am creating a pile of nows that add up to: 1) a place I want to be and 2) a person who lives according to her values.
I am not in a rush to get to the end. I am savoring the laughing, the eating, the bending, the being with my friends and family. See that having made your decision to eat healthy, you are already there. Living with healthy choices is living in the present.
Goals are fantastic and we need these endpoints to design a plan to reach a destination. Just like a road trip. But enjoying the journey is just as important.
At 60, it doesn’t help to think of yourself as an urgent problem that needs solving right now. How about thinking of yourself on a continuous path of improvement. Not a thing that needs fixing, but a creature growing in knowledge, wisdom and intuition.
Keep learning the art of living your life in a way that gets you natural pleasure. Health, vitality and freedom from the bondage of food. If that means that it takes more time to understand your body and how it can release weight, give it time. Eating healthy today for your future self is adding love to the world. Love yourself today.
When your goal is to lose weight, pick a food plan that is sustainable. It has to work for you. I think this perspective comes with the wisened years – I certainly didn’t think this way in my 20s when I was willing to starve myself on coffee and cigarettes to lose a bunch of weight. Now, this food plan has to bring me natural joy in the day.
To summarize, I keep thinking of Aesop’s Fables of the The Tortoise and the Hare. “Slowly does it every time!” You have made it to your 60s. When you start walking on a path of eating 100% whole foods and you want to lose weight, be patient with your body. Evaluate if you are living the way you want to today – no matter how fast you are losing weight. If you speak to your future self, would she be happy with your path? Is your diet providing for your nutrition needs? Are you eating for fuel and living for joy?
Knowing you are traveling on the right path – meaning you know it is leading to where you want to go - gives you the confidence to look up and around and to the side so you can look in your companion’s eyes and enjoy the journey. Don’t worry about how fast you get there, what you are learning on the way is what it’s all about.